YOUR correspondent Douglas R Mayer (November 19) points out the incessant carping from the Conservative Party in Scotland on the SNP and independence.

Not wishing to be outdone, James Cleverly MP, Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa, appearing on Question Time last week, waded in with a real tale of woe including the assertion that life expectancy in some parts of Scotland is worse than Rwanda.

Let’s hope Edinburgh’s ancient volcano, Arthur’s Seat, doesn’t blow its top because of the SNP, adding to the Tory ammunition bag.

Neither the Conservatives or Labour ever cast a critical eye over the amount of poverty and deprivation created entirely on their watch during the 20th century when the economy was in their full control.

They have the temerity to accuse the SNP Scottish Government, on a fixed budget, of not reducing generations of poverty after only 17 years in power whilst Westminster continues to hold the purse-strings.

How Scotland returning to being an independent country will work with the rest of the UK and Ireland, requires to be formulated and your correspondent Mairianna Clyde touches upon this (November 19) but it is reasonable to assume there will be a meeting of minds to mutual advantage once the postulating is over.

What it most certainly would mean, is Scotland would be represented as an equal at the table - a new experience.

To achieve this, democracy must prevail and the conflation between the consent to hold a referendum and the actual referendum must cease.

No-one should be apprehensive of another independence referendum: the result will be the choice of the people. Democracy is underlined if first we establish that the people want to hold a referendum, and there is no better mechanism than including it as a manifesto item in next May’s Holyrood elections.

Even those against independence have nothing to fear as it would only be an indicator that holding a referendum was the majority choice – two cracks of the whip for Unionists.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield, Glasgow.

THE SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, got two public dressing-downs on Thursday.

The first was the Prime Minister’s confirmation that the Black Watch would not be disbanded, accusing him, in typically florid Johnsonian tones, of being a “veritable geyser of confected indignation”.

The second was his very public hosing by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson and James Cleverly MP in front of three millions BBC Question Time viewers when, in answer to the “has devolution been a disaster?” question, they detailed all the irrefutable facts about Scotland’s decline in the last 20 years, especially the last 13.

If even half of this stuff got on prime-time BBC Scotland and STV, and even half of our local pro-UK politicians took a “how to do it” induction course from Cleverly and Nelson, a lot more people in Scotland would understand just how much of a ride we have been taken for.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven.

COMEDY hour again at Holyrood. Mike Russell – who is retiring in 2021 – tells us that there WILL be a referendum next year, because it will take so little time and effort to prepare for one.

Presumably, this is on the basis that SNP information about the things that matter to people will be as sparing of substance as witness statements in the Salmond inquiry.

Hilariously, Mr Russell claims that Scexit offers the best hope of repairing the economic damage of Coronavirus.

That will be because the UK Treasury has provided Scotland with the billions of pounds that have kept hundreds of thousands of Scots supported in the crisis through furloughing and other measures, something unacknowledged by the administration to which Mr Russell belongs.

Still, I suppose as Constitution Secretary – a post that violates the devolved/reserved prescription – he has nothing else to do but pontificate about constitutional matters and collect a fat salary.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh.

WHEN Ian Johnstone writes “As for Unionists transforming a throwaway remark by former First Minister Alex Salmond into some kind of fealty oath , this beggars belief …” he was presumably thinking of Salmond saying the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation” (letters, November 19)

The Foreword to the Scottish Government paper entitled “Scotland’s Future” published on November 26, 2013 stated “ If we vote No, Scotland stands still. A once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path, and choose a new and better direction for our nation, is lost.”

This was the paper in which the Scottish Government made out the case for independence – was it all meant to be throwaway?

J. Young, Edinburgh.

THE letter from Dr Edwards (November 18) commenting on “another disastrous attack on what is left of the Scottish economy” is a re-run of a topic that is clearly dear to his heart.

Is he, though, being fair to Holyrood?

No-one is questioning that the Scottish economy is in trouble and that the inherited problems have been exacerbated by the damage caused by Covid.

What, though, has to be acknowledged is that these inherited problems can be traced back directly to the damage caused to our traditional industries by the Thatcher government.

Coal-mining, shipbuilding, iron and steel production, textiles and car manufacturing were all sacrificed. Whole communities were destroyed in the process and have struggled to recover.

The responsibility for economic and financial police rests squarely with the Westminster government, not Holyrood.

What we have witnessed in the intervening years has been a deliberate bias on the part of successive Westminster governments in thrall to the finance sector and the City of London.

This has been reflected in both legislative and capital investment programmes.

Looking at capital investment, a recent analysis by Neil O’Brien, a Tory MP and former adviser to George Osborne, found that successive Westminster governments have spent much more in London than elsewhere over many years.

He found that transport spending was almost three times higher and the capital has received nearly twice the UK average science spending since 2001. London will also have experienced five times as much support for affordable housing between 2016 and 2021, and nearly five times as much spending on culture.

To take but two current examples of this bias, Crossrail has cost £19 billion and rising, while the Thames Sewage project has already cost £4.9 billion.

Meanwhile, here in Scotland, much of the 118 miles of rail track between Perth and Inverness have not yet been electrified and most of the stretch is covered by a single set of tracks.

Our motorway system north ends at Perth.

Until the Scottish Parliament acquires the essential tools for managing the economy then we will remain dependent on the largesse of Westminster.

We can only look with envy at other European countries of similar size to Scotland where independence has enabled them to flourish.

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.

ROBERT I. G. Scott’s allegation (letters, November 18) that “The Agreement reached in Edinburgh between First Minister Alex Salmond and Prime Minister David Cameron was quite specific in the fact that the 2014 Referendum was to be a ‘once-in-a-generation’ poll” is quite false.

I would challenge Mr Scott to show us where the Edinburgh Agreement says this. Indeed, I would challenge him to show where the word “generation” is used, far less “once in”. Or even that the Agreement implies or suggests anything like this?

I was surprised when Alan Sutherland (letters, November 18) compared the number of Covid deaths in Scotland with countries such as Denmark (151 per million), Norway (58.8) and New Zealand (5).

Surely, we would expect someone with his clearly deep and sincere belief in the Union, to cite England, so that we know what we are missing in Scotland. But then a few moments’ reflection, and chasing the evidence, shows that the newly confirmed Covid 19 deaths in England are 841 per million, while in Scotland, the figure is 664 per million, or 20 per cent less.

As for Mr Sutherland’s original comparators, comparing independent, sovereign states with a country whose administration has powers only devolved from a government whose own record on Covid is one thing that could reasonably be described as “disastrous”, is a prime example of comparing “apples and pears”.

Lastly, Douglas Cowe (letters, November 18) suggests that Scotland is “split down the middle” on independence.

Not quite true that, though, is it?

It might seem pedantic to say so, but the fact is that the last 12 opinion polls have all shown a majority in favour of independence. I accept that support might be more than 50 per cent but less than 60 per cent.

However, only recently, such as Mr Cowe would speak of the “Unionist majority”, even though for the last year or two it was less than independence enjoys at the moment.

A debate about independence seems inevitable. Indeed, it might be argued we are having it already.

However, is it too much to expect the Unionist side to present their evidence accurately, clearly and consistently? Based on the three cited examples, this does not seem likely.

Alasdair Galloway, Dumbarton.